TAWK Featured Family -
'5 Pods in a Van'

1.  Who are you?

We are the Podolak family, also known as 5 Pods in a Van, from Ipswich.  We are a family of 5 with Me (Michael), Krisy and 3 kids Poppy (8), Leo (7) and Autumn (6).  We initially decided to travel Australia in 2019 after some discussion that life and the best years with our kids were getting away from us.  

Therefore, we quickly purchased our Jayco Starcraft Outback and made plans to take off in 2020 – but then Covid struck.  This meant we had to delay the trip until now and we are excitedly ready to leave on July 1 for a 6-month half lap travelling in an anti-clockwise direction.  It is hoped that this will be the start of plenty more longer adventures.

2.   Why did you make your decision to TAWK?

Krisy and I have always had a love for travel.  When we were younger and before kids, we spent 2 years living in Scotland and backpacking all parts of Europe.  After that we jumped to Canada and America zig-zagging coast to coast via trains and buses to see as much as we could and soak up the lifestyle of living in other countries.

Reflecting on those times we have always discussed travelling Australia.  Like most families the desire initially to do it was there, but the excuses or hurdles just seem too big – what about jobs, money, schooling the kids…the list goes on.  Eventually we just set the date of July 1, 2020, and started planning, but then Covid struck which shut the door on the trip.  The recent Covid outbreaks have definitely demonstrated to us that we need to do it now or time will get away from us again.  So here we are, finally setting off on our exploration of Aus.

Australian Kids Books by Roland Harvey

3.   How did you get organised and how did you prepare?

Once the date was set, we knew we had to be ready.  We had over a year to be prepared due to Covid so in that time we have saved like crazy, set our home on wheels up and included the kids in outlining a mud map of where we would like to explore.

As we are initially setting off for 6 months, I have put in for long service leave. Krisy is studying mid-wifery so she altered her course requirements so she could still study whilst travelling.  The last notification to give was advising the kids school we would home school for the remainder of the year whilst travelling.

4.  What has been your biggest joy?

Knowing we are finally, really going to start this adventure is the most joyous thing.  Although we have had plenty of opportunity to go and explore with smaller, holiday style trips, it’s not the same as knowing you will live on the road each day!  

5. What has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

Having our plans dashed last year was heart breaking.  At one stage we did contemplate pulling the pin and being content using the van every school holiday period.  Constant communication made it clear we still wanted to go and if we didn’t do it now, we wouldn’t do it. The extra time to prepare has allowed the kids to become more involved in the preparation for this year.  They have had more involvement in researching of places, towns, areas of importance which has given them more ownership that this trip is just as much theirs as it is ours.  

6.   Where have you enjoyed the most and Where disappointed you the most?

As we haven’t started our trip, we can only go off where we have been so far.  

Wooli on the northern NSW coast is a favourite of ours.  The choice of a surf beach or calmer river water within a 100m walk either side of your van is a true privilege.  The kids love the area, and we love the fact that it is so removed from the other hustle and bustle of coastal towns/villages.

To date we haven’t been disappointed on an adventure or with a location.  Weather has been a dampening factor but this it not a thing you can control, and you just have to make do.

If you are thinking of Travelling Australia With Kids, then the TAWK Guide would be a great place to start.

Available for immediate download as an eBook AND now due to popular demand as a hard copy booklet.  Particularly good if you are like me and like to 'red pen' and make notes!

Click here for more information...

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7.   How did you get organised with schooling, what did/do you do and how did you come to that decision?

We have chosen to home school on the road for the 6 months of travel.  I am a secondary school teacher and with the recent “learn from home” routines due to covid we feel this is the best choice for us.  The kids’ school have been great in sharing resources and encouraging us not to overwhelm the kids with curriculum, but rather, use the environment we are in at that time as the education resource.  

We have one priority with the kids learning whilst on the road and that is to keep a journal.  This allows them to practice handwriting, reflect on the day, recount what they learnt and add an artwork that describes what they wrote in a picture.  In addition to all those educational benefits it gives them a keepsake of the trip and hopefully that is all the encouragement they will need to travel in future.

8.   What surprised you most about the trip?

So far, it has been how keen the kids are to get on the road. Sure, there are the emotional times when they realise they will not be seeing friends etc. but overall, they are keen to get involved.  Even with our very fluid map of where to go they have taken it upon themselves to research what we can do in a particular area.

9.   What would be three pieces of advice to give to future TAWKers?

Our 3 pieces of advice are:

  1. Get the kids involved.  The more they can be involved the less they feel they are being dragged along for the ride.  You will also be surprised about the things they would like to see and activities they want to do.
  2. Follow your own path.  One thing we have learnt is never to take the word of someone else that says “don’t bother going there/here etc.” Make up your own mind and go where you want to go, seeing what you want to see.
  3. Minimum is key. You cannot bring everything and less is best.  Don’t be scared to get rid of stuff you haven’t used within a time frame, you will be surprised what you can do without.

10.   How do you think that this adventure has changed your family?

As we haven’t hit the road yet I am going to write this from a perspective of what I hope it will do to our family.

I am hoping it will allow some time for us all to relax and slow down a little.  We can then stop and enjoy the small things with each other’s company.  Life is busy and you really do lose sight of what is important in life – and for most people this is family.

I think the time together in such a small space will build resilience in the kids whilst allowing us all to be more patient with each other. The time together will build an extraordinarily strong family unit that we all know we can rely on when things get rough.

We'd love you to have a look at our Facebook Page and see more of our adventures there.

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